As riots continue in many major cities across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, one encounter between a FedEx truck and a protester ended in a fatality.
In St. Louis, local media outlets reported that a protester was allegedly killed as the result of being dragged by a FedEx truck as protesters attempted to loot the contents of the trailer. The accusations of looting have yet to be verified by national media as well as by The Trucker.
KMOV, a Missouri CBS affiliate, reported that detectives are investigating the incident, which took place around 3 a.m. Saturday. A bystander’s video obtained by the news station is said to show a man standing between the truck’s two trailers when the truck began to move, dragging the man. The man involved in the incident was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
Local media outlets report that FedEx released the following statement regarding the incident: “Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this week. We are deeply saddened to learn of a tragic situation involving a demonstrator in St. Louis and one of our vehicles. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family of the individual involved. There is no higher priority for FedEx than safety, and we are cooperating fully with the investigating authorities at this time.”
According to the news station, an accident-reconstruction team is looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident as part of the investigation.
The widespread riots, which include people of many races and nationalities, stem from a Friday, May 29, announcement that a Minneapolis law-enforcement officer was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd, a black man who begged for air while the officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck as Floyd lay handcuffed on the ground. Several bystanders captured the incident on video, which can be viewed on various online media and social outlets.
Below is a brief look at some of the other cities and states that experienced protests-turned-riots overnight. Truck drivers should remain vigilant and aware of the happenings across the country, and use caution and good judgement before entering a city where riots could be ongoing.
In Minneapolis, the city at the heart of this incident, riots have left a scene of destruction that includes the burning of a police building on Thursday night. The city has enacted an 8 p.m. curfew; however, many protesters did not comply with the orders on Friday evening.
Saturday morning (May 30), Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced that the U.S. National Guard has been fully mobilized for the first time in the state’s history.
“At this point of time, it is nothing short of a blessing that we have not had someone killed as an innocent bystander in this,” Walz said in a news conference Saturday morning.
Protests turned destructive in Atlanta Friday evening when protesters moved from Atlanta’s downtown Centennial Park toward the CNN Center, located across the street from the park.
The protests started peacefully earlier in the afternoon; but then protesters began moving toward the front of the CNN Center, where police had gathered. Over the next few hours, the crowd swelled, and SWAT teams were called in to help with crowd control.
A police cruiser was set on fire, the CNN letters in front of the building were spray-painted, and protesters threw water bottles and other objects at police who were inside the front lobby of the CNN building. CNN Center is also home to a hotel and other businesses. The building is the media organization’s world headquarters.
Various news reports state that demonstrators ignored police demands to disperse and that some protesters moved to the city’s major interstate thoroughfare, where they attempted to block traffic.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a press conference Friday evening in which she denounced the violence of the protests and urged the citizens of the city, which has a rich history of civil-rights activism, to end the violence. She remarked, “You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country. We are better than this.”
Houston and Dallas
Police in Texas’ two largest cities deployed pepper spray and tear gas to disperse crowds Friday night as protests escalated over the death George Floyd, who was a Houston native.
Protesters blocked highway entrances and threw objects at officers after what had been a day of largely peaceful demonstrations. Some clashed with police at several locations downtown Friday evening, including one confrontation that took place near police headquarters.
Organizers believe more than 3,000 people gathered with Black Lives Matter Houston to protest Floyd’s death with chants of “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace,” as they marched from Discovery Green to City Hall. Some were arrested for attempting to block roads, including Interstate 68, but no injuries were reported, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said some police vehicles were damaged.
A similar escalation developed in Dallas, where a rally that included hundreds of demonstrators at police headquarters escalated when protesters marched downtown to an intersection near city hall. Videos from the scene showed demonstrators being met by officers in riot gear and shields.
An officer was injured Friday after hundreds of people marched through San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley, and temporarily shut down a five-lane section of highway to protest Floyd’s death.
Vehicles were at a virtual standstill on the southbound lanes of U.S. 101 in San Jose ahead of rush hour during a pandemic that has kept many Californians home, according to video footage from KGO-TV. Protesters left the highway after an hour.
Police later fired tear gas and nonlethal projectiles into the crowd, which grew to about 1,000 protesters in downtown San Jose. Officers in riot gear lined up to prevent demonstrators from further disrupting traffic near city hall, KPIX-TV reported.
The station said protesters smashed the windows of police cars and threw water bottles, and several protesters were detained. One of the station’s reporters said he was struck by a hard plastic disk fired by police but was not injured.
A San Jose law-enforcement officer was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, said Officer Gina Tepoorten, a department spokeswoman. Police officers’ union spokesman Dustin DeRollo said the officer was punched in the head by protesters and knocked unconscious, while some media reports said the officer was struck by a thrown object.
Meanwhile, several hundred protesters marched peacefully down city streets in the state capital of Sacramento, gathering near a police station and shouting at dozens of police guarding the building.
The activity came a day after nine people were arrested after rocks were thrown at businesses, vehicles and officers during a Southern California protest also stemming from the death of George Floyd, authorities said.
Protesters in Virginia, responding to the death of George Floyd earlier this week in Minneapolis, smashed windows at police headquarters and briefly shut down a major highway on Friday.
In Richmond, a Friday-evening protest that began at Monroe Park, near Virginia Commonwealth University, drew hundreds of people who marched through the streets chanting “No justice, no peace.”
As the protest continued, news outlets report a that a police cruiser and a dumpster near Richmond Police headquarters were set on fire. A Richmond television reporter covering the protests was struck by a thrown bottle. Later, a city bus was set ablaze. Police responded by spraying the crowd with chemicals in an attempt to disperse the protesters.
In Hampton Roads, hundreds of protesters, both white and black, marched from Fort Monroe to Interstate 64 to close the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. They entered the highway shortly before 9 p.m. and stopped traffic in both directions, causing delays before moving on, news outlets reported.
Hundreds of people staged a raucous, roving protest in Denver on Friday that was generally peaceful — until night fell, when police deployed gas canisters and fired pellet guns for a second straight night to disperse crowds gathered in response to Floyd’s death and the circumstances surrounding it.
Mayor Michael Hancock and protest organizers called for calm and unity for the rallies that began midday in downtown Denver. But as evening came, the situation devolved.
Some protesters lobbed water bottles and other objects at officers, according to KUSA-TV. They then scattered and retreated onto the capitol lawn as police retaliated and tear gas filled the street.
Earlier in the day, protesters chanted “George Floyd” and “No justice, no peace” as they marched from the capitol to the Denver City and County Building. They proceeded along downtown Denver’s pedestrian mall and back to streets near the capitol, where ground-floor windows were boarded up. Passing motorists honked their support as the protest continued, more than six hours after it started.
Police detained at least three people — the reasons were not immediately known — and erected protective fencing around police headquarters as a precaution.
“Let not the story be about the riots and protests. Let’s keep the focus on the life that was lost,” Hancock declared after Thursday’s violence.
“I can tell you not to go out and demonstrate. But the reality is, it’s going to happen,” Hancock said, stressing that he shared outrage over what he has called the “senseless and tragic murder” of Floyd.
Hancock, along with Police Chief Paul Pazen, blamed what they called a minority of agitators among peaceful protesters for inciting violence throughout downtown on Thursday. Three officers were injured and 13 people were arrested for burglary, criminal mischief and assault Thursday, Pazen said.
On Thursday, when hundreds gathered outside the state capitol, some protesters broke windows and spray-painted graffiti on the building, and a state patrol car and a lawmaker’s truck were heavily damaged. In other areas, police in riot gear fired gas canisters, used rubber bullets and walked in a phalanx through the streets. The protest briefly spilled onto Interstate 25, until police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Police were investigating who fired shots outside the state capitol, sending people running, Pazen said. It was unclear if protesters were being targeted, and no one was arrested, police spokesman Kurt Barnes added.
Officers also were investigating numerous other incidents, including one in which a motorist appeared to intentionally strike a protester, Pazen said.
Both the mayor and police chief said they supported continued peaceful protests going forward. A large protest has been called for Saturday.
[The Associated Press contributed to this report.]